These articles first appeared in the series H. P. Blavatsky: The Mystery in The Theosophical Path in 1930.
Part I. Evolution
Evolution means unfolding, unwrapping of what is within. Postulates of the Ancient Wisdom on Evolution enumerated. Evolution on three Planes: monadic, psycho-intellectual, and astral-physical. The drive to better is universal. Distinction between Darwinism and the Theosophical doctrines. A Religion of Nature will replace agnostic uncertainty. Evolution and the law of Cycles. Evolution as a series of 'events'. Analogy a guiding rule.
Part II. Evolution (Continued)
The value of Darwin's work; but many of his statements untrue. Apes have some human blood but man not descended from ape. Man the most advanced of living beings. Three succeeding evolutionary waves fully explained in Theosophy, each a fuller type of self-expression for the manifestation of the monadic essence. Evolution is both cyclical and teleologic. Man a composite being. The indrawing of finest energies of man at death and their reawakening after period of rest and entering anew another physical body. The picture of the great Root-Races as given in The Secret Doctrine. Root-Races related to geologic periods.
Evolution as taught in the archaic philosophy, and therefore taught by the Theosophy of our own times, is based, as a process, on what we may briefly call the unfolding or unwrapping of what had previously been infolded and inwrapped. It is therefore, as a word, used in the exact etymological sense.
When, indeed, the Theosophist uses the word 'Evolution,' the picture immediately comes to mind of a very general process applying as well to worlds or spheres or planes, as to any one or to all of the innumerable hosts of entities inhabiting those worlds or spheres or planes which compose the entire universe. All are, considered both collectively and in particular, but passing phases or 'events,' stages in progressive development. Thus Man, originating in the beginning of past aeonic evolution as an unself-conscious god-spark, travels through the various phases of evolutionary progress or growth, and each one of such phases is to be considered an 'event'; and this process has continued to the present time, and will continue indefinitely into the future, till the very end of the present Cosmic Period of Manifestation.
The Monad began its long pilgrimage in the beginning of a past Cosmic Period as an unself-conscious god-spark. This 'event' was followed from phase to phase, each such phase being a new 'event,' until it found itself in that phase of its evolutionary journey on and through our earth called the Mineral Kingdom. It passed through this Kingdom in the course of long ages through the process of unfolding the innate energies and powers flowing forth from itself, gradually bringing the intermediate links, or intermediate nature, between the Monad and the Mineral Kingdom, into becoming fitter and more perfect vehicles to the Monad; so that ultimately the evolving Monad found itself in the Vegetable Kingdom.
Passing through this Kingdom during the course of long aeons, the constant perfecting of the intermediate vehicles between the Monad on the one hand, and the plant-bodies on the other, brought these intermediate links into a still more sensitive and quasi-conscious condition, so that they became fit for enshrining the Monad in the Beast Kingdom.
The Monad passing through all these various phases or events of the Beast Kingdom in its evolutionary progress, continued, as before, in a larger measure of progressive unwrapping of ever higher or more spiritual energies flowing forth from the inner Monad itself, till the sensitized beast-nature became more fit to express, in still larger degree, still higher and nobler energies and forces flowing forth from the Monad; and at this point, then, we find the journeying Monad manifesting in the Human Kingdom.
But here a very important point must be noticed, so important, indeed, that we dwell upon it somewhat strongly. The process as just described does not in any sense mean that the elemental became a stone; nor that the stone became a plant; nor that the plant became a beast; nor that the beast became a man; for if this were so, it would be preaching the old Darwinism over again in simply newer and somewhat different phraseology. That is not the idea at all, and it is one which the Theosophical teaching of Evolution repudiates. Here are the differences between the popular doctrine of Evolution, which is more accurately described as 'Transformism,' as the French properly call it, and the Theosophical teaching of Evolution:
First: The Ancient Wisdom postulates the deathless and ever-enduring spiritual Monad or Life-Consciousness-Center: a purely spiritual being, existing as a separate Individuality throughout the aeons of our present cosmic period of Evolutionary Manifestation.
Darwinism teaches nothing of the sort, but says that all beings arose out of inert and lifeless matter, how, no one knows. But such was the declaration, although, as we have earlier explained, scientists today are beginning to talk about a doctrine of 'emergence'; and this is a very hopeful sign of a more spiritual viewpoint working through the scientific imagination.
Second: the Theosophical teaching of Evolution, we reiterate, does not set forth that the Monad becomes an elemental, nor that it becomes a stone, nor that it becomes a plant, nor a beast, nor a man. It teaches that the Monad unrolls or unwraps or unfolds from itself -- in other words, emanates various energies or powers which, as they aggregate around their monadic source, form a composite vehicle or body in which, and through which, the Monad works, and through which it manifests itself on the lower planes.
These intermediary vehicles or bodies grow or evolve progressively in a cyclical development; and thus become ever more fit vehicles for the manifestation of the transcendent powers flowing forth from the spiritual Monad. The Monad never leaves its own spiritual sphere. It sends, as it were, its rays through these intermediary vehicles or bodies, down into the material world; and of course these rays find an ever easier path of expression as these intermediate vehicles become more perfect, fitter to express the powers inherent in the monadic rays.
It is thus clear that the Monad, never leaving its own spiritual realms, simply 'overshadows' or illuminates all the relatively gross material vehicles through which it passes, and which form the various phases or 'events' of its growth.
To the contrary of this, all the scientific theories know nothing of this Monad behind or rather above the various physical bodies which that science alone knows anything about and studies. This science traces only a gradual increase in the material beings or entities which are the subject of its researches, and from this gradual increase of faculty and organ it deduces the unquestioned truth of an evolutionary progress. But it has mistaken that process. It sees an actual transforming of the lower physical entity into the higher physical entity; and this transforming of body into body is what the Theosophist repudiates. All the various physical vehicles or, in other words, the living beings and entities in and through which the monadic rays manifest, and which are the phases or events through which the Monad passes, are indeed nothing but that -- 'events.' They come, they live, and they pass; but the Monad working through its evolving, intermediate and living vehicles continues forever.
It is the gradual increase in 'Perfection,' to use a popular word, of these intermediate vehicles in which the monadic rays work, which constitutes Evolution; and the various Kingdoms thus also in the last analysis are built up and made more perfect by the inner urge or drive within.
Third: The Theosophical teaching of Evolution sets forth that the various Kingdoms of Nature are themselves plastic phases or 'events': transitory appearances of interior energies expressing themselves through these various Kingdoms, and indeed forming those Kingdoms, much as the interior forces of man's constitution form his body.
When such a body is worn out, it is dropped, and the intermediate entity, the 'reincarnating ego,' passes on to its rest, but only to return after a certain lapse of time and inform a new physical entity. In other words, it assumes a new human body in the next incarnation. European science knows nothing of Reincarnation, or of the process just sketched, except by hearsay, and of course in one sense it is not to be blamed for refusing to accept something which its physical studies have not yet enabled it to prove. Nevertheless such theories as that of 'emergence,' as enunciated by Dr. Lloyd Morgan and his school, are long steps in advance and show the direction in which modern scientific speculation is advancing.
Furthermore, Evolution in the Theosophical sense, means that such a progressive growth or development takes place coincidentally and coordinately on at least three planes: the monadic (for the Monad itself is evolving in its own high realms); the psycho-intellectual or the human; and the astral-physical. It is in this concurrent scheme of evolution that lie the secrets of the progressive development of even the physical beings of our own world; for these beings, after all is said, but reflect or mirror the general growth or forward advance of what takes place in the case of the inner intermediate entities which inspire and drive on these beings of the physical sphere.
What, then, is the Monad? The Monad is a spiritual entity, a life-consciousness-center. Each Monad is a spiritual being, which in long past aeons of development -- in other words, in other Manvantaras or periods of Cosmic Manifestation -- had passed through all the inferior or lower phases or 'events' of growth until it finally reached conscious quasi-divinity.
One of such previous 'events' was in all senses equivalent to what is called the human stage as manifest on our earth. In other words, a man is an entity in which spirit and matter are more or less equilibrated. It is the destiny of the human beings of the present period of cosmic evolution on this earth ultimately to attain the same high spiritual stature and status that these Monads have already reached. These Monads are, therefore, only our forerunners on the path of an ever-expanding evolutionary perfection -- a perfection which never reaches an ultimate.
Similarly, the infinitesimal lives which compose man's body, and which are the life-atoms invigorating the atoms of physical chemistry in which they live and through which they work, are ultimately souls, so to speak, evolving towards the human stature and condition of progressive development.
Thus we see all through Universal Nature one common Rule of Action or Operation of Natural being: the drive or urge or tendency to betterment. This is Evolution in the Theosophical sense, and the student or reader can work out the details as widely and as largely as he may choose to do so.
Every stage of evolutionary advancement is an 'event.' This word is an excellent one, because it contains the meaning of a passing or transitory phase of growth; it destroys in the mind the tendency to crystallization of ideas, and to consider the various things and entities which surround us as unchanging in their essence, and changing, if at all, only in their outer appearances or bodies. The exact reverse of this is Nature's law. Everything changes, every thing advances; every entity changes, every entity advances; every entity, every thing grows, develops, and therefore every entity or thing is a phase or 'event' -- in other words, a stage of growth of that indwelling and impelling entity in its progress to higher and greater and better stages or events.
The Monad itself, therefore, is a spiritual 'event'; man is a human event; the mineral is also an event; the worlds and spheres and planes in which these various beings live and move and have their being, are themselves but 'events.' For everything changes -- in other words grows -- passing from the less perfect to the more perfect, from the inferior to the superior; and all things and all entities: divine, spiritual, intellectual, psycho-astral, or physical, whatever they may be, and wherever they may be: are unwrapping, rolling out, bringing forth from within themselves, if we speak in a collective sense, the intrinsic, inherent, innate energies, powers, faculties, of the Causal Self residing in the core of each.
That causal Self is the source of all, and the whole course of Evolution is the raising up unto ever higher standards of self-expression, of the spiritual grandeur within, of all the entities and beings which form the hierarchical hosts of the Boundless Universe. Everything helps everything else; nothing and no entity lives unto itself alone; every entity and everything is but a part of another entity still more grand, still more sublime. This is the secret meaning of the saying of Paul of the Christians, that "In It we live and move and have our being."
It is at once apparent that the Theosophical view of Evolution is distinctly a spiritual one -- necessarily so, because Evolution, as conceived by the Ancient Wisdom, is fundamentally the activity of spiritual powers manifesting throughout the spheres of Universal Being.
It is precisely in this that lies the great distinction between Darwinism, as taught under its various forms by its scientific exponents, and the teaching of Evolution as Theosophy sets it forth. So far as the mere details of the progressive development of the physical beings on earth go, the Theosophist is more than willing to leave to the researches of biologists, their elucidation and classification; but when it comes to questions of causes or to scientific questions having a wide philosophical import and basis, the matter is a very different one.
It seems to the Theosophist a matter of mere time until the real nature of Evolution considered as a natural process shall have become more or less clear to scientific thinkers, and then doubtless the Theosophist will see the same close approach to our ancient teachings that scientific discovery and scientific deductions from these latest discoveries have already been instrumental in producing in the present day.
To put it in simple language, the missing factor in scientific transformism is the idea that every animate evolving entity has a 'soul' and in a sense is a 'soul.' When the science of the future shall have realized that physical beings cannot exist without an inner focus of energy -- call this inner focus 'soul' or by any other name that you may please to adopt -- then the philosophical science of the future will with every year tend to become more Theosophical.
On precisely the same grounds do we feel that when the science of the future shall have come to understand, and understanding to realize, that the physical world is but the expression of the energies and ethereal substances flowing into it, and thereby composing it, from spheres which to our present sense-apparatus are invisible and which we may call the 'soul' of the physical world -- then too shall we in all probability, indeed of necessity, see the science of that future day becoming with the passage of each year more and more Theosophical.
When that future shall have arrived, science will have become distinctly religious, but religious in a cosmical sense and not in the restricted sense that this word 'religious' is ordinarily understood to have in Occidental countries. Then a new and very beautiful Religion of Nature will take the place of the present period of agnostic uncertainty -- that is what it really is, let people say what they may. A system of thinking builded upon uncertainties and changing from day to day, pari passu with each fresh and epoch-making discovery, may be all right in a certain sense perhaps, but it most certainly offers no principles of structure which are either permanent or satisfying. The mind and heart of man instinctively call for some basis of reality which, if not unchanging, at least is self-consistent and enduring, and of course there can be no reality outside of natural fact and law.
Now, when we speak of a Religion of Nature it must be remembered that the word 'Nature' is employed strictly in the Theosophical sense, that is to say, in the sense of a Cosmic Organism, consisting of both visible and invisible worlds or spheres or planes, and ensouled by vast Hierarchies of living and fully self-conscious entities of a spiritual character and type. Whether these be called gods or spiritual beings or by some other name, matters not at all. It is the conception that is important. Scientific thinkers are becoming restive under the rapidly accumulating facts of discovery for which there has as yet been evolved or found no unifying and satisfying system, bringing them all into coherent and logical form. In other words, modern science is soulless, and this word is not used with any desire to be disrespectful, nor forgetful of the splendid work of our scientists in doing all they can to unveil Nature's secrets. This they most certainly are doing, using all their efforts, to penetrate behind the veils of the outward seeming. Truth is perhaps the holiest thing that man can aspire to, and unquestionably the best minds in science are seekers of Truth.
Of course in time such a Religion of Nature will be found or formulated, and it will be founded entirely on the facts of the spiritual Universe. But it is a great pity that work towards that end has not already begun with a larger degree of definite purpose. Opinions such as those of Professor Eddington, before alluded to, are of course a great step ahead. Once that men realize that the substratum of all natural being is Consciousness, a new light shall have dawned.
Now, Evolution is, in fact, not a thing in itself, but a procedure of Nature, and is wholly governed by the karmic causes originated in previous periods of the existence of any evolving entity whatsoever. And since Evolution is but the bringing forth into kinetic manifestation of seeds of activity sown in its own fabric of structure, it is of course evident that it is Karma, or Nature's fundamental law of cause and effect, which is the originating cause of all evolutionary activity.
Closely involved in the conception of Evolution is another operation of Nature which we may call the Law of Cycles, or Nature's repetitive operations. This is an exceedingly interesting branch of study, one which is so obviously manifest in the worlds surrounding us that its existence can hardly be denied, except by the wilfully blind. Everywhere we find Nature repeating herself, although such repetition of course is not merely a running in the same old ruts on each recurrence of the cyclic activity, for each recurrence is the expression of a modification, more or less great, of what has preceded. Day succeeds night, winter succeeds summer, the planets circulate around the suns in regular and periodical courses; and these are but very familiar examples of cyclical activity.
Man himself in his course of repeated incarnations is another example of the same method of Nature's working, and, as just said, Evolution and cyclical activity are closely involved, the one with the other. Indeed it may be said that these are not so much two distinct processes of Nature as they are two aspects of the general process of natural growth in progressive development. Cycles in Nature show the time-periods of periodic recurrence along and in which any evolving entity expresses the energies which are itself, so that cycles and evolution are like the two sides of a coin: the one shows the time-periods or cycles, and the other side manifests the energic or substantial qualities appearing in manifestation according to these cyclical time-periods, but back of this apparently double, but actually single, process lie karmic causes.
The thought may perhaps become more clear if we consider the evolutionary progress of any evolving entity (or any host of evolving entities) as a continuous or uninterrupted series of 'events,' in the sense already outlined. These 'events' are the self-expressions of the energies flowing forth from the evolving entity, its different phases of self-expression; and as each evolving entity is a bundle of forces, each such bundle having its own characteristic or type, its own individuality, it becomes obvious that this individuality can express only what is in itself, indeed, what is itself; and this continuous and uninterrupted expression of the powers of the indwelling Self proceeding along the lines of its characteristic individuality, furnishes not only the time-periods or cyclical aspect of the process, but also the changing qualities of the energic substances involved, which are the evolutionary aspect.
A tree, for instance, at the proper season of each year, will burgeon into leaf and blossom, finally producing fruit; and then at the proper time-periods these manifestations of the indwelling vitality will fade or pass away. Each such recurrence is an event in the life-cycle of the tree, and repeats itself from year to year. Just so in the case of an evolving Monad (or any other entity, or any expression of such an evolving Monad -- a human being, for example), each incarnation is but the renewed coming forth into manifestation of the karmic results, of the Chain of Causation and of Consequences, originated in the past life and lives. These of course proceed according to the energies involved, which had their beginning, their period of maturity or culmination, and their decrease or decay. These last must proceed according to cyclical periods.
This manner of looking upon Evolution as a continuous series of 'events,' the one succeeding the other throughout time, and each one being the fruitage or consequence or resultant of the preceding event, is invariably considered by the Theosophist to contain a deeply ethical significance, using the word 'ethical' in a larger sense than is perhaps usual.
A man who considers himself as such an evolving entity, self-expressing himself in such a continuous and uninterrupted series of 'events,' realizes that the old-fashioned ideas of an immortal and changeless soul having one term of life-expression on earth, and thereafter entering upon an endless period of a more or less crystallized destiny, are as unnatural as they are impossible of acceptance by any thoughtful and logical mind. Instead he sees himself to be a growing entity, a learning thing, continually assuming garments builded of circumstance and time, and as continually casting them aside when their use and purpose have been respectively fulfilled.
Evolution therefore in the Theosophical view of things is a distinctly spiritual process, for in Spirit it has its roots and action and all its ultimate motivating qualities. When we say 'Spirit' here, we mean of course the spiritual Monad, as before described, and not some vague and intangible quantity or essence which is assumed to be separate from the matter existing throughout the spaces of Space. Such a universal essence is not denied, but it is merely the vital stuff or substance of the Cosmic Entity in which all the Monads inhere and of which these Monads are themselves, so to say, the life-atoms, and it is in no sense of the word separate and distinct in its roots from the remainder of the Universe.
The Spirit here spoken of in the particular sense which we are now studying, means those individualized centers of consciousness-life which the Theosophist calls 'Monads,' adopting for the purpose the old Pythagorean term. It is a good term because each such Monad is in its essence or in the core of itself an individualized and deathless entity, lasting throughout the entire term of manvantaric evolution, throughout a great Cosmic Period of Life-Manifestation. It is of course true that at the end of such a Cosmic Period of Manifestation, these Monads re-enter the bosom of what we may briefly call the Boundless All, for their term of monadic rest and recuperation; but they will again issue forth for a new Period of Cosmic Manifestation when the cosmic time-clock points to the karmic hour.
The destiny of a Monad is thus to be sketched precisely along the same lines that characterize the destiny of any individual reincarnating human ego, for indeed any such reincarnating ego or highest human self is but a copy in miniature of what its 'prototype in heaven,' the Monad, is. Analogy is the one greatest guiding rule in any attempt to explain the operations of the Universe and of the entities included within its immense bosom. One fundamental and universal system of laws operates throughout the ALL, and hence it is of course a simple matter of logic that the part shall obey, or rather follow, the general operation of these cosmic laws, for the inseparable parts of the Whole can do no otherwise.
But we repeat: this is in no sense fatalistic, for just as the cosmic spaces of Space themselves are the enshrouding garment or veil of some immensely superior Cosmic Entity possessing consciousness and will or freedom of choice in its own spheres or realms, so does likewise every one of the innumerable Hierarchies of the hosts of entities composing that Hierarchy as its life-atoms, have each one its own individual character or monadic center; and this is equivalent to saying that it has its own individual sphere of free will or moral and intellectual choice.
Envisaging Evolution as an entirely spiritual process in the last analysis, makes the study of it one of surpassing interest, for it is immediately seen to be the manner of working of the indwelling hosts of consciousnesses which not merely inform and infill the Universe, or any specific part of it, but are actually the fabric or framework or web of that Universe itself.
No Theosophist has ever denied that there is a certain modicum of truth in the views of Nature that were brought into modern physical science more or less through the writings of Charles Darwin; but by this we do not mean that the Theosophist is a Darwinist. We have already most emphatically denied this. The first edition of Darwin's book, The Origin of Species, was published on November 24, 1859; and his second work, epoch-making in its way, The Descent of Man, was published in 1871. In these two books, Darwin set forth his conception of the evolutionary process as a series of additions to, or in some cases substractions from, the physical equipment of evolving entities, by means of what he called "natural selection," or the "preservation of favored races in the struggle for life."
The idea lying behind these two works is that Nature is a purely mechanical process, eventuating in the varied phenomena of the world which surrounds us; and that the energies inherent in Nature and producing these phenomena were in some mysterious manner endowed with the power of selecting out what Darwin called 'fit' entities, in other words, entities or beings which by chance had brought forth certain physical characteristics enabling them to survive and reproduce their kind in a manner superior to other contemporaneous physical beings.
Now, of course no one denies that as regards two entities, one of which is fit and the other unfit as regards a certain environment, the fit has the better chances to survive; but it is very evident that merely restating a natural problem in new words, is giving no explanation of the problem at all. It is not solved merely by stating the facts of the case in a new formulation. Furthermore, the fittest is by no means the best, and the most limited experience of life shows us that sometimes it is the best which goes to the wall. For instance, shark and a man in the water offer an example of a case where one, the shark, is well fitted to live in that particular environment, and the man is not. The shark will survive and the man will drown; but the man is unquestionably the better, the more evolved, of the two.
What was lacking in Mr. Darwin's work was the conception of an inner conscious or quasi-conscious urge or impelling drive which brought forth not merely the fit, but also the best, in any particular set of circumstances; and merely to say, as Mr. Darwin did, that the better of two in the long run survives, is merely saying what everybody knows, and is offering no explanation at all of the phenomena of life. The great value of Darwin's work, in the effect that it had on immediately succeeding generations, was its calling attention to the unexplained fact of progressive development, and also the destructive effect that it had on the crystallized theories and notions of the time.
In certain merely secondary matters we do not deny that there is some truth in Darwinism, but we cannot see that it really explains anything in Nature whatsoever; and indeed Mr. Darwin himself rather pointedly said that his literary work was descriptive rather than explanatory: at least this is the substance of a number of his remarks.
Again, the supposition of Darwin, and of his followers even today, that the human race is an evolution from beast-ancestors and more particularly from the anthropoid stock, is, in the Theosophical view, not only unproved but untrue, and later evolutionist-biologists have done splendid work in showing pretty much the same thing.
It is often said today that Darwin did not teach the descent of man from the apes; but this statement is unfortunately altogether untrue. In several places in his published works Mr. Darwin makes the very definite declaration to the contrary, deriving man in an unbroken line from that particular branch of the anthropoid stock which is commonly called the Catarrhine or Old-World division of the anthropoids. For instance, in his Descent of Man, chapter vi, 'On the Affinities and Genealogy of Man':
Now man unquestionably belongs in his dentition, in the structure of his nostrils, and some other respects, to the Catarrhine or Old-World division.
And again on the next page, he remarks, in speaking of the Catarrhine group:
We may infer that some ancient member of the anthropomorphous sub-group gave birth to man.
And again, over this page, he continues:
And as man from a genealogical point of view belongs to the Catarrhine or Old-World stock, we must conclude, however much the conclusion may revolt our pride, that our early progenitors would have been properly thus designated. But we must not fall into the error of supposing that the early progenitor of the whole Simian stock, including man, was identical with, or even closely resembled any existing ape or monkey.
And again he says, in the same chapter, a paragraph or two farther on:
We are far from knowing how long ago it was that man first diverged from the Catarrhine stock; but it may have occurred at an epoch as remote as the Eocene Period.
In view of these citations and a large number of others that could be made from Darwin's works, it is simply idle to deny that the great English naturalist derived man from the ape-stock, merely because he says that man could not have been derived from "any existing monkey or ape." Of course not. The trees of the present period are obviously not derived in direct lineal descent from the ferns and mosses of the present period! It is the alleged derivation of man from the anthropoid stock which we find to be utterly unsupported by any natural fact.
Unquestionably a large number of resemblances and even possible identities in some few cases exist in ape and man. These are natural facts, which certainly no Theosophist would ever deny; and, furthermore, with an insistence even stronger than that of the Darwinist, we point to these resemblances and few identities as certain proofs of the relationship of the apes to man. But we offer an explanation of these facts which is widely different from, in fact what we may call a polar antithesis to, that suggested by Mr. Darwin, and followed by his school.
It is perfectly true that the apes have some human blood in their veins, but there is not one drop of ape-blood in the veins of man. This entire matter is so well set forth by H. P. Blavatsky in her The Secret Doctrine, in various places, that it would be a mere waste of time to go into the details here; and to The Secret Doctrine the reader is referred for further information, if he cares to pursue the subject.
Man is the most advanced of the living entities on earth today, and being the most advanced, the immediate supposition is that he is so because the oldest of the animate stocks on earth. Being the oldest, he has had the most time in which to evolve forth from his indwelling monadic essence in greater degree than the inferior stocks have been able to do, the innate or inherent energic and substantial characteristics of that monadic essence, which thus expressing themselves through their ultimate vehicle, the physical body, have changed it correspondingly.
Evolution is a cyclical process, as already said, and this fact is so perfectly obvious that even the most recalcitrant Darwinist, or the most positive and determined materialist, is not blind to the fact. Even from Darwin's day, it was noted and commented upon that as the geological record is uncovered, one very interesting fact is observed with greater clearness and more fully as that geological record becomes better known, and it is this: there seem to have been in past ages on earth, evolutionary waves or cyclical periods during which one or another stock apparently suddenly appears in the geological record, advances steadily to its culmination or maturity of development of form and power and size, and then fades away and apparently in some cases, as suddenly disappears, while in other cases remnants are carried on over into the succeeding age.
Such cases of succeeding evolutionary waves are very noticeable in three instances: first, in the Age of the Fishes, which took place during what it is usual to call the Primary or Palaeozoic Era. This was the geological era when the sea swarmed with fishes of all-various kinds and sizes, which fishes then represented, as far as the geological record shows, at least the supposedly highest known forms. This last we do not admit, but we are here speaking of the geological record alone, and not of the Theosophical teachings.
The second of these waves, which occurred during the Secondary Era or Period of time, is what is called the Age of Reptiles, when reptilian monsters of many kinds and often of huge body, were, so far as the geological record shows, the masters of the earth.
The third instance occurred during the Tertiary -- or perhaps it began in the last period of the Secondary, and continued into the Tertiary -- and this third evolutionary wave or cyclical period we may call the Age of the Great Mammals, which then in their turn, succeeding the Reptiles, were the masters of the earth.
In each of these three cases, as the geological record is studied, we can see the beginnings: we can see the growth in size and power, the culmination or the maturity or full efflorescence of the particular stock. Then comes decay and a final passing of the bulk of the animate beings belonging to that particular evolutionary life-wave, making place for the new stock, which in its turn has its dawn, reaches its full margin in the expansion of its physical powers and size, and then in its turn passes away; and so forth.
These evolutionary waves comprise a subject of study which is fully explained in Theosophy, and they furnish interesting examples of the cyclical nature of Evolution as hereinbefore spoken of. Wave succeeds wave, each wave reaching a higher level of evolutionary activity than did the preceding wave; and is in its turn followed by another wave, bringing on the scene beings or entities and things of a new and different type.
It has been customary to say that the fishes gave birth to the reptiles, and that the reptiles gave birth to the mammals, to the great beasts, and these great beasts brought forth man through the highest of their own type, which, as supposed, was the ape. But the difficulties in the way of the acceptance of this theory are far greater -- and no one knows this better than the modern transformists themselves -- than are the arguments in favor of it. The Theosophical teaching runs directly to the contrary. It sets forth that while it is true that these evolutionary waves succeed each other, each such wave represents or manifests the coming on the scene of physical existence on our earth of a new Family or a new Host of evolving entities. It says, furthermore, that each one of these hosts has its dawn, its noonday, and its evening, and that the physical bodies in which these hosts of evolving entities dwell, die or pass away in due time, and that the hosts themselves pass on to inhabit vehicles or bodies of a higher evolutionary character which these hosts themselves bring forth.
It is not the bodies of these hosts which give birth to the superior bodies which follow them, as the Darwinist and other theories say; but it is the succeeding waves, each one of a stronger and fuller type of self-expression, of the Monads composing such an evolving host, which in their psycho-astral principles grow constantly more perfect and fitter vehicles for the manifestation of the monadic essence.
Evolution is essentially a process arising from within, and not existing wholly without; or, in other words, Evolution means the monadic essence constantly expressing itself in ever fuller measure, and constantly raising the visible and invisible vehicles through which it manifests itself to better and fitter vehicles for the expression of itself.
In one sense, therefore, in the Theosophical view, Evolution is not only cyclical but teleologic, purposive, working towards a destined end, which in fact is an ever fuller expression of the monadic essence. But this purposiveness in Evolution, this inherent urge or drive to betterment, is in the entity itself, and is not imposed upon it from without, either by a god or gods existing outside of and separate and different from the evolving entity, or, on the other hand, by physical nature alone.
Physical nature furnishes the environment or fields within which the monadic essence works, and it is in these physical fields that the various races of physical bodies which biological science calls the various Classes, Orders, Families, Genera, and Species, of physical living beings, exist, and are the means for the ultimate self-expression of the evolving host of Monads or consciousness-centers.
We return again to the key-thought of what Evolution is, as taught by the archaic Wisdom-Religion, Theosophy: it is a continuous and uninterrupted series of beings appearing one after the other, enchained by karmic effects or actions one to another -- each one the fruitage of its predecessor, and eventuating in its successor; and this continuous and uninterrupted series of beings is an endless concatenation of 'events' of evolving Monads in the sense we have already set forth.
Evolution is cyclical, for it has a beginning, a culmination, and an end -- which is but a new beginning along other lines; and the motivating or rather the energizing causes behind this majestic process of natural as well as intellectual and spiritual growth, flow forth from the consciousness-center or Monad within the evolving form, in strict accordance with the seeds of karmic action sown by previous acts, and thus working in and through the conditions and circumstances which then exist.
It is thus that the fabric of character is built; it is thus that the destiny of the future is founded; it is thus that consciousness expresses itself in continuous and uninterrupted action. What is called 'death' is no real interruption, but is a passing or transference of the invisible energies composing the evolving entities to the invisible worlds or planes or spheres, where the cyclical evolutionary activity pursues an uninterrupted course without break of continuity.
When we realize that man, as an example of such an evolving entity, is a composite being, consisting of a spiritual-divine Monad; of a reincarnating ego; of a temporary 'event' called a human ego; and of a vital-astral-physical body; it is at once seen what death is -- the casting off of the least evolved or most imperfect of these living vehicles. In other words it is the dropping of the physical body, and the continuance of the evolutionary course as regards the remaining portions of man's constitution.
In due time, after the death of the physical body, the intermediate or soul-nature or human nature in its turn is dropped. All the best of it, all the finest energies or functions, are withdrawn or indrawn into the monadic essence, which then, as before, pursues in its own spiritual realms the sublime course of evolution characteristic of itself. Then, when the energies which we have called the 'finest energies' (formerly withdrawn into the monadic essence and forming the reincarnating ego) have passed a certain period of time in rest or repose or in what may perhaps be properly termed an intellectual adjustment in spiritual equilibrium -- the seeds of thought and action previously sown in the fabric of the reincarnating ego itself and thus forming part of its own being, awaken. They begin to manifest themselves anew, and by a species of psycho-magnetic attraction for its former spheres and planes of activity, the reincarnating ego is drawn back to the earth whereon it had formerly lived, and enters anew another human physical body. It starts a new life-cycle, the fruitage of its past life and lives, and which again will be the field whereon shall be sown the seeds ultimately producing the next succeeding reimbodiment. Thus this wonderful process continues, each step or stage of growth in the normal course being superior to the last.
We omit in the present study all questions of retrogression, for there are occasional instances of apparent degenerative return to a more imperfect but always human incarnation. These last cases are very rare, and do not concern us here, for they are what may be called exceptions to the general rule.
It is these seeds of thought, of emotion, and of energic impulses carried over from the tree, so to speak, of the former life, which are destined to blossom forth into the career of the individual next to be: in other words, to furnish the series of 'events' and the various vehicles for the reimbodiment of the Monad in its next cycle of evolutionary activity on earth.
. . . . .
In order now to round out the scheme of Evolution we have set forth and to give the more complete Theosophical picture of the great Root-Races, as we Theosophists call them, through which the human race has passed, we present the following observations drawn from The Secret Doctrine by H., P. Blavatsky.
In the first place, then, and in the early portion of the evolution of this globe -- our Earth, which is the most material of a chain of seven interblending and interlocking spheres, the other six of which are progressively more ethereal as they ascend towards the spiritual realms -- when the human life-wave first entered into the 'physical' atmosphere of this earth in those far past aeons of time, it did so as Beings clothed with light -- or at least we may so phrase the matter for easy understanding.
The earth then opened a new period of evolutionary activity. Previous to the descent of the human life-wave from those other and higher globes of the earth-chain of seven spheres, the earth had been in a course of evolutionary preparation. This means that it had become from an ethereal and nebulous sphere in its beginning, one now fairly well compacted or concreted in the material sense, although far more ethereal than it is at the present time.
The human host, when the time came for it to appear on this earth-globe, did so in bodies of concrete light, these bodies having a globular, or perhaps more accurately, an ovoid or egg-shaped form. These were the 'physical bodies' of this first period of human evolution, the First Root-Race.
These ovoid bodies had no physiological organs whatsoever, and the vital functions were carried on by a process very similar to what would now be called osmosis, including both endosmosis and exosmosis. The manner of propagation of this First Race was entirely sexless, and was carried on by what would today be called fission, or the separating off from the parent-body of a part or a half of itself, which thereupon grew and became another entity similar to its parent. This lasted many millions of years and it might be remarked in passing that this First Race appeared on earth some tens of millions of years ago, or possibly more.
It was succeeded by the Second Great Race of mankind, the Second Root-Race, which was more material in all senses of the word than the First, but still preponderantly ethereal. It likewise was asexual in character, and its method of propagation was by budding. A small 'bud' or swelling appeared on the body of the individuals of this race, and finally detached itself from the parent in order to grow into a being in all respects similar to the parent from which it came.
There followed it the Third Great Root-Race, much more physical or grossly material than its predecessor the Second Root-Race, but still far more ethereal than the human beings of the present time. Its method of propagation was in the beginning also asexual, by 'spores,' which method very soon, racially speaking, assumed the form of hermaphroditism. Its young were born from it in the shape of small ovoid bodies, which method of propagation is still extant on earth in egg-laying creatures such as the fowls and reptiles.
At about the middle of this third Root-Race there ensued one of the greatest events in the history of the human species, and this was the Awakening of Mind, or Intelligence, which had been entirely latent in the First and Second Root-Races, which were, mentally speaking, in much the same state that a man of the present day is in when in what is called a trance. They were but faintly, if at all, conscious of themselves, and the consciousness of the first two Races might perhaps be likened to that manifested by an infant or very young child of the present day.
The Third Great Race from about the middle point of its existence on earth -- an existence which lasted for many millions of years -- began to grow more and more towards becoming a race containing individuals such as we are today; and in its last portion, did indeed fully develop the separate sexes as now known. From this time began to appear the beginnings of real civilizations, and towards the end of this Third Great Race civilizations existed of a glory and splendor which we have not yet surpassed. This, of course was many million years ago.
This Third Great Race was followed by the Fourth Great Race, called technically the Atlantean for the reason that the main continental system on which it lived and flourished and built up its brilliantly material cycle of civilizations, lies under what are now the stormy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
It may be remarked in passing that it is one of the geological teachings of the Ancient Wisdom that continental systems succeed each other in cyclic regularity in time. What is ocean becomes dry land, bears its races of men, and then disappears or is submerged to give place to succeeding and more evolved races existent on new lands, rising or emerging out of oceanic areas which were formerly part of the aquasphere of the earth.
This Fourth Root-Race was in every respect and in all senses the most material, grossly material, body of human stocks known in the history of the earth, and coincidentally with its middle point of evolutionary development the earth likewise reached its condition of greatest material concretion or solidity. Since then, both the earth and the men who live on it have re-become more refined, more ethereal, for the evolutionary turning-point, alluded to before, then took place, and the beginning of the pathway towards a more ethereal condition of things occurred.
It is to this great Fourth Root-Race and its brilliantly material civilizations and great Initiates, that most of the religious and philosophical mythology of the ancient peoples refers when it speaks of the 'giants of antiquity,' of the great Sages and magicians of past time, and of the wickedness of former generations of men. All this is set forth with marvelous power in The Secret Doctrine, to which the reader is referred for fuller information.
When this great Fourth Race had about half-way run its course, there appeared the beginnings of the Fifth Root-Race, and this Fifth Root-Race is the present Race of mankind, to which we ourselves belong. We shall be succeeded by two other Great or Root-Races, each one, just as ours is doing, evolving constantly towards a more ethereal expression of energies and substances, on its return journey to Spirit from which all beings and things originally came. The earth likewise follows the same etherealizing process, but at a much slower rate of speed than do the humanities succeeding each other in cyclical periods.
In order to give a somewhat definite geological view, it may be said that the First Root-Race appeared, in all probability, in what it is customary to call the late Primary Age (or Palaeozoic Age) of Geology, and possibly in the Devonian, or Coal-Periods. Because of the fact that the geological periods, as taught today, are by no means certain as regards their duration or their points of beginning, it is extremely difficult to place our Races in them with any pretense of accuracy.
It is quite possible that the First Race had its beginnings in the Coal-Period. The Second Race also very probably had its origin in the later Carboniferous or possibly even in the early Permian. The Third Great Race was contemporaneous with the enormous reptiles of the Triassic and Jurassic Periods of the Secondary Era; whilst the Fourth Great Race certainly appeared before the Tertiary, and the great Sages and Seers specifically state that its primal beginnings may even be placed back in the very last period of the Secondary Era, probably therefore in the Cretaceous.
It was in the very beginning of the Eocene Period of the Tertiary Era that this Fourth Race made its first real appearance, and it reached its culmination of brilliant material splendor, and its catastrophic fall, in the Miocene. Our own Fifth Race, as a race sui generis (and racially descended from the Fourth Race which preceded it), is at least a million years old, but the primal beginnings of our Fifth Root-Race go back farther than that, and perhaps may be traced into the early Miocene, which witnessed the catastrophal downfall or destruction of the great Fourth Root-Race.
Finally, in response to the question that might be asked regarding the lack in the geological record of any evidences of the First, the Second, and the Third Root-Races, the answer is simple enough. The First Race was extremely ethereal in physical texture, much more so than even the earth then was. And so was the Second Root-Race, although more materialized than was the First. Obviously, races having bodies of so tenuous and vaporous a texture could leave no fossilized impress even on a more or less etherealized earth, as it then was. Nor could even the Third Race in its early portions do so, for it was still much more ethereal than the globe on which it lived.
However, it must be remembered that the geological record is extremely imperfect, so imperfect indeed that what we know of it is not a page here and there in a big volume, so to say, but not even all the paragraphs of that one page, nor even all the sentences of one paragraph. The geologic record furnishes us with only an occasional word or phrase, or sentence perhaps, here and there on such a page, and mostly towards the end of the page.
The fourth Race of course was quite sufficiently material easily to affect the earth on which it lived, for the men of that Race were not only mighty builders, but their bodies were intensely physical and gross, more so even than our own; fossilized remnants of these bodies it is quite possible will be found when further discoveries open up further paragraphs of the book of the geological record.
Thus then, in the preceding sketch of Evolution as taught by Theosophy, we see once more the power of thought that the Great Theosophist, H. P. Blavatsky, possessed, and the high grade of intellectual discernment which enabled her to gather, in her The Secret Doctrine, the large number of facts and instances which she there adduced in support of her restatement of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom in modern times.
What she there taught was practically unknown and unsuspected when she wrote. But since her passing, Theosophists have checked off, one after the other, as they have come to pass, ever closer approximations by the most brilliant minds in modern scientific speculation to the teachings which she there laid down.
We come back to the question we have asked before: Whence did she get these teachings? If she invented them, she was indeed a genius without peer in the history of the world, for these supposititious 'inventions' are being yearly shown to be facts of Nature, as modern scientific discovery and deduction bring them to our view.
But no Theosophist ever looks upon H. P. Blavatsky in this light. While recognizing her intrinsic greatness of spirit, of mind, and of heart, the Theosophist above everyone else realizes that the hand which wrote The Secret Doctrine and the brain which dictated to that hand, were inspired by intellects still loftier -- the Great Teachers of the Ancient Wisdom from whom H. P. Blavatsky, from the beginning of her public work to the end, claimed to receive the doctrines which she gave to the world.
We conclude this chapter with the following thought: Evolution is a fact, growth is a fact, the great Seers and Sages of the ages are a fact and they are the individual products of cyclical evolutionary law. They are as much a necessity in Nature's scheme, so far as our earth is concerned, as is anything else, and to deny the existence of the Teachers of Wisdom who sent forth H. P. Blavatsky into the world is equivalent to denying the fact of cyclical evolution itself.
They are the Fine Flowers of the human race, the noblest human expression of the monadic essence. Between them and us there are all-various grades or degrees of intemediate grandeur, and between them and the gods there are other similar grades and degrees of still nobler beings who are the examples of a still more splendid evolutionary growth.
Top of Page